Friday, March 10, 2017

Okay...Only A Bunch More Conference Calls and I've Made It to the Weekend...

A bunch of wrap-up thingies for the week...

1) Mo' Rugers! Mo' Rugers! Mo' Rugers! Ruger has announced an American .45 Compact. I like the compact 9mm a lot, so I would expect this one to be every bit as good. I assume Brother Ed Head has a review spinning up for DRTV. Ruger also announced 2 more versions of their MK IV .22 pistols, a 22/45 Tactical, based on the upgraded model with the removable grip panels, and a MK IV Competition, which I have on the way to me this week.

This is the pistol I alluded to on Wednesday's podcast. Am looking forward to shoot more Rimfire Challenge this year, and after shooting the Mk IV Hunter version for SHOOTING GALLERY this season, I really want to put the Competition model through the paces. Should be here today or early next week.

It will be fitted with an RDS for this season...

2) Here's Version 3.0 of my EDC:

You may ask yourself why so many versions. Valid question. Just before a match I tanked my untankable Trij RMR06 on my competition USPSA Carry Optics gun. By tanked I mean it stopped holding zero and battery life dropped to minutes...obviously a sick puppy! Plan A was to pop an RMR off one of my other guns, bolt it onto the Suarez G19 I compete with and be good to go. Then Mr. Ham-Hands himself stripped one of the screws holding the RMR in place (Oh come on! Don't you dare tell me you've never stripped a little screwhead!).

Rather than stick with my original plan of screaming and pulling my hair out, I shifted gears on EDC back to my RMR-equipped G26 (not exactly a huge change, to be sure, since my EDC has a G26-sized frame anyway...I didn't even have to change magazines), pulled the slide off the EDC G19 — a very old Glock slide fitted with a first generation Leupold DeltaPoint, and went to the match.

I had always intended to go to a different slide/optic on the ROBAR-build frame, but it was on the back burner. Since I had pieces of Glock scattered all over the place, I decided to move that plan up. I talked to Gabe Suarez and had Suarez International build me up one of their G19 slides in grey with an RMR06 and stacked night sights front and rear. I added a stock barrel and recoil spring assembly. I'll start testing on it today. Once I get around 200 rounds though it, I'll place it into service. BTW, here's a great round-up of Glock barrels from the Victory Gun Blog. I run a Wilson Combat barrel in the competition G19, and it is noticeably different, especially with the Wilson Signature 125-gr Match ammo. If the barrels ever come back into stock, I might even buy a spare! LOL!

And yes, any RDS-equipped firearm that I use for carry is equipped with BUIS!

3) In our Hand Me the Mallet Department..this left me to fix my ham-handed stupidity on the competition gun. Above all things I hate tapping out screws and bolts, especially little bitty screws and bolts. Amazon to the rescue! I have Craftsman bolt and screw removers, but I took a quick look for something a little smaller. I came across Alden MicroGrabits, cutter on one side, extractor on the other. A little pricey, but it looked like what I was looking for. Boom! easiest extraction I've ever done! These things rock...dentists ought to use them. Will have my Trij boxed up and on the way to service today. Meanwhile, I'll stick with the competition set-up I have now.

4) I'll be doing a little big bore stuff next week, working with .44 Magnum single actions for upcoming SGO episode. I admit that part of this is driven by Max Prasac's book I talked about in a previous post. I realized that it has been a while since I worked with the single action blasters, and I kinda missed it. I'm even itching to do some .44 Magnum reloading...maybe it's spring in the air...or a virus of some kind.

5) And one more gun lust point...heard from Big Horn Armory this morning that they are now offering their achingly beautiful big bore lever guns in a 16-inch barreled Trapper version. This is from the presser:
Trapper carbines retain all of the features of the Models 89, 90 and 90A that have made them a resounding hit with hunters and woodsmen who desire a fast-handling powerful repeating rifle that can deliver multiple shots faster than the traditional bolt-action rifle. Receivers and barrels are made from 17-4 stainless steel CNC machined to the tightest tolerances in the industry. All components are made in the USA and assembled by a well-trained staff of gun makers in Cody, Wyoming. Stocks are made from selected American black walnut superbly fitted to the metalwork and checkered to 20 lpi, capped with a 1-inch recoil pad. The generous finger lever accommodates the largest hands even with gloves. Big Horn Armory rifles have the nearly bomb-proof Skinner Sights aperture adjustable for windage and elevation and a post front sight.
In either .500 S&W Magnum, .460 S&W Magnum or .454 would only make my pre-'64 Winchester 94 30-30 jealous!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Inexplicably, It's Not Friday

I'm on my second gallon of coffee to see if I can jumpstart my brain. Fingers crossed...

I've started reading my friend Max Prasac's spectacular book, THE GUN DIGEST BOOK OF HUNTING REVOLVERS. Even if you're not interested in handgun hunting, the book is a wealth of information on big bore revolver shooting (and was Max's previous book, BIG BORE HANDGUNS).

Our SHOOTING GALLERY episode on John Linebaugh's annual big bore seminar in Cody, WY, was very popular. I think a lot of shooters (and I'd include myself in that group) are fascinated with shooting the big boomers. As I said on the show, it is undeniably hard — hard to master that giant explosion so close to your face, hard to handle that much recoil, hard to keep your hand and wrist from crumbling into powder after a hard day of the range. Max is one of the great masters of this arcane art, and it helps that he is an excellent writer. For those of us who love the boomers, the photography is breathtaking.

HUNTING REVOLVERS is the second "significant" firearms book to be published recently — the first is Richard Mann's THE SCOUT RIFLE STUDY. I say "significant" because both the books add new information and impressive depth to our understanding of these 2 niche areas.

Considering that Richard is a pecker-headed West Virginia redneck, the SCOUT RIFLE STUDY is pretty much a masterpiece in multimedia…the only thing I can think of to explain this is that Richard is holding a whole bunch of 10-year-old hackers captive in his basement. I'm pretty sure Richard knows everything about Scout Rifles, and like Max, he knows it because he's put a bazillion rounds through them, tried numerous different configurations, and used them for training and hunting around the world.

I tend to default to people who do, as opposed to people who have carefully examined all the significant Internet forums, blogs (including mine), social media and YouTube — and hell, even taken a class! — to arrive at their conclusions. I know I've ranted about this recently, but it popped up in my head again since Marshal and I have been writing checks to purchase T&E guns.  We tend to buy a lot of guns and gear because we're in the business, and the way to really understand a firearm is to shoot it a bunch. A 30- or 90-or even 180-day test and evaluation period will introduce you to a gun or a piece of gear, but you don't really know it.

I figure Max and Richard have spent the bulk of their disposable income for decades buying and shooting the guns they're now writing about. That would be my definition of "expert."

Sunday, March 05, 2017


So yesterday I had a wonderful plan…was going to get out the door early, do my various and sundry errands, then spend the afternoon at the range. I'd gotten out my .22 Ruger American bolt gun and a brick of CCI Quiet to do some work off sticks and practice off-hand on close and medium targets. I was darned excited.

Of course the errands ran long, so on the way home I grabbed a turkey sandwich from a little sandwich shop I'd visited before and ate it on the way home. You know what's coming next, right? I'd just stepping into the house and set the groceries down when the cramps hit, and — YEHAW! — they put me on the freakin' floor! Needless to say, I didn't make it to the range…I was lucky I made it to the bathroom…almost.


Better today, but if you've ever been through a bad bout of food poisoning you know that it echoes for days. Just what I needed.

Tomorrow on the video portion of the podcast I'm going to be talking .22s. We (me and my shows) sort of drifted away from .22s during the Great Ammo Shortage…it didn't make sense to me to be heavily promoting a type of shooting that was — temporarily — out of reach. With ammo back in the pipelines, I wanted to come back to .22s and to the NSSF Rimfire Challenge, a sport I'm proud to have had a hand in founding. I would like to make the World Championships this year in October.

I'm hearing rumblings of changes in the Rimfire Challenge, and I'm 100% on board in any capacity they might need me.

I'm going to start working with the Mark III I built a couple of years back, the one with the Majestic Arms trigger and the Tac-Sol 6-inch upper. If you recall, that build was one of those "3 Little Piggies" builds where I couldn't get it exactly right. The final product, though, is the absolutely best .22 pistol I've ever shot…until

I was hugely impressed with the new Ruger Mark IV .22 (you saw it on SHOOTING GALLERY this season!). I was tremendously impressed with the 2 Mark IVs I shot — the Hunter and the Target — but especially the fluted-barrel Hunter version. I said on camera that the Mark IV Hunter I'd been shooting was the single best Mark-series .22 I'd ever shot…true. I'm very interested in the Competition model like this Gallery of Guns 100-year commemorative. The Ruger designers when down a similar path to my own…the longer (6 7/8-inch) barrel, but slabbed to reduce the swing weight.

I've got a Mark IV on the way and I'll shoot it against my Mark III. I'm also very interested in the Tac-Sol TLP-22, which I've handled but not shot. Chet, Dan, Mike, Ford and the whole crew at Tac-Sol were able to synthesize the lessons we've learned over the years of the Rimfire Challenge and translate them into a pistol (in the same way they built their X-Ring rifles). BTW, I am lucky enough to have a different sort of X-Ring in the works — on with the cocking handle on the LEFT side…heck, where it should be! I saw Mike Wirth's leftie X-Ring when I was out at Tac-Sol a few years back and put my name on the waiting list if they ever did another run. It's in the oven cooking up as we speak.

I am going all red dot this year, since I'm EDC'ing a Trij RMR. I will probably go back to the old Burris Speed Dot on the rifle…I love that sight! Was cheap, worked great…what can one say? Sort of like the old Tasco ProPoint, one of the first red dot sights I ever bought. The thing still works.

Not sure about the dot on the pistol. I have several options. Right now there's a Burris FastFire on it, but I'm considering a C-More.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Save Your Pennies...

From Swaro this afternoon:
Cranston, Rhode Island - SWAROVSKI OPTIK NORTH AMERICA, a subsidiary of the Austrian based company, announces the dS, representing a completely new generation of rifle scope. This product will highlight the optical features of a conventional rifle scope and combine the technology of digital targeting to form an impressive, complete device. Delivery starts in Europe in July 2017. The launch in the US market will be Shot Show in January 2018. 
The new dS shows not only the correct aiming point, but also the key ballistic data in the head-up display without any distraction and in real time. The key benefit for hunters is that the correct aiming point will be displayed automatically in the rifle scope. With the press of a button, the dS measures the exact distance to the target, having factored in the magnification setting, air pressure, temperature, and angle. This takes into account the personal ballistic data for your firearm/ammunition combination. The windage mark intervals are calculated based on the distance measured, the wind speeds set, and the ballistic data. 
The display shows the distance information, bullet energy, and other features in a high-resolution head-up display that clearly provides you with all the hunting data that can contribute to a successful hunt. The design of the dS with its attractive silhouette will look great on any rifle. 
The scope requires networking with a smartphone. Exchanging data is simple and straightforward via the Bluetooth® interface. The personal data supplied when sighting in the target are input directly into the app and transmitted immediately. 
SWAROVSKI OPTIK has developed a “smart” rifle scope with the dS, which provides hunters with intelligent support. Technical and long-range optical innovations, combined with the hunter’s own expertise, make it possible to remain totally focused even in challenging situations. “This makes an important contribution in terms of allowing hunting to be carried out in a responsible manner all the time,” says Carina Schiestl-Swarovski.
Sure, it's going to cost more than car, probably more than an SUV, but in reality you kid can put him - or herself through college without your help...besides, what's a degree in puppetry worth these days? Get the scope...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Winter is Back, Dammit!

How could this happen, I ask? No more casual afternoons at the range for a while…was really nice to have almost a month of spring in the dead of winter, right about the time when we all start coming down with cabin fever ("I shot six holes in my freezer" as the song goes).

Spent yesterday shooting/videoing for the SGO GP-100 special. Was especially fun plinking with the GP-100 .22 10-shot and CCI "Quiets." Could barely hear a "tink" when the bullets hit the 60-yard silhouette.

Today is V/O for the AMERICAN MARKSMAN finale and some planning for next week's podcast. Since the first segment is video'ed I'm trying to put together a more visual piece for the filming. Next week I fully intend to wear pants, however.

I've done a little juggling of guns for in-house carry. Normally, I stick a .380 in my pocket when I get up in the AM, since I dress comfortably when I'm going to be working in the office all day. Note the dripping understatement in that comment...anyway, with people working outside on the new video studio most days (today being a Snow Day exemption), and me having to occasionally race to a store to pick something up, I wanted something a little more definitive to have on my person. Rather than buy a G43, I settled on the Ruger LC9s I put a couple of hundred rounds through a while back. I have a nice Simply Rugged DEFCON belt holster that is comfortable and easy to carry all day, so I'm going to go that route for awhile.

I never had any trouble with the older long DA pull LC9, especially after Galloway Precision overhauled it. As I said earlier, the LC9s has the best striker-fired trigger I've ever felt. I'm going to replace the Ruger guide rod and spring with a stainless steel captured spring version from Galloway just as a precaution. Still, when I leave the house, it's the red dot G19.

I guess I'll go ride the Spinner for an hour or so...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Great Circle of Life...

...Ruger style!

Been out shooting me some revolvers, filming for SGO. Aren't they just as cute as a passel of puppies? From top-dead-center, going clockwise, GP-100 .44 Special, Alaskan Super Redhawk .454 Casull, SP-101 Wiley Clapp version, GP-100 .357 Wiley Clapp/Gemini Custom, and .44 Magnum Redhawks by Hamilton Bowen.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fun Day at the Range

Yesterday we began filming for an SGO episode centering on the new Ruger GP-100 .44 Special…I want to talk a little about the history and the enduring appeal of the .44 Special. Since yesterday was B-Roll Day, I got to haul out a bunch of cool guns to shoot, including my Taylor's Schofield .44 Russian top-break, an S&W M-21 .44 Special and a plethora [use "plethora" 2 more times and it's MY word!] of GP-100s in multiple calibers.

As I've talked about on the podcast, I was never a particular fan of the GP-100. I have and had Smiths and Colts in .357, and because of my fascination with big bore handguns, .357 guns didn't much show up on my radar. That changed when my friend Ken Jorgensen at Ruger convinced me to try one of their Match Champion GP-100s. Ken is a revolver specialist and an enthusiastic ICORE competitor, and I know he had a lot of input into the Match Champion (so named as it was designed for IDPA revolver competition).

I got the gun just before I headed out to GUNSITE for a week of filming, so I took the Match Champion and a case of .38 Special ball along with me. In between filmings I had a great chance to run the gun and really liked it. Initially I wasn't crazy about the Hogue grips, but they feel really great in the  hand. I bought the gun and ran it in USPSA revolver competition…no, I didn't win the Cadillac, but I had a lot of fun.

It only got worse from there. We did a SHOOTING GALLERY episode on the ICORE Revolver World Championships, and I used a "vintage" GP-100 6-inch I bought off GunBroker and had overhauled by my friends at Cylinder and Slide Shop. I shot in the"classic" division, which requires speedloaders instead of moon clips.

From there I added a Wiley Clapp 3-inch (customized by Gemini Custom) and a 5.5-inch 10-shot .22 GP-100 for easy practice. I had trouble with my first .22 GP-100…one of the chambers was, in my best guess, not cut quite deep enough, causing the cylinder to bind up. I ended up returning that gun to Ruger, and the second has worked without a hitch. I plink a lot with CCI Quiets, which are…quiet.

One of the things we filmed yesterday was a recoil comparison with self-defense loads in the 3-inch .44 Special, the 3-inch .357 and a 2.75-inch Redhawk. I'm also doing a little history of the .44 Special, working up through .44 Russian (hence the Schofield) to the .44 Magnum. The other 2 parts we need to film are a comparison with other mid-frame .44 Specials (a Hamilton Bowen custom S&W .44 Special "Mountain Gun," a S&W 396 AirLite, a Charter Arms Bulldog and a Taurus 431 stainless steel. As you know, most of my revolvers have been "dinked." The Bulldog was redone by MagNaPort and has been a consistent problem child. The old Taurus, which was a gift from my father decades back, ended up in my safe because my father said it had the worst trigger in history…which is did. Jim Stroh from Alpha Precision completely redid the gun, rounding the square butt and going through the action with a fine-toothed comb. The result is one of the best .44 Specials I own. So the Ruger GP-100 has a lot of competition there. The final part is going through the GP-100 line. I'll do accuracy testing next week.

FWIW, in the last few years I have gone to "designer" cartridges for self-defense carry in both .44 Special and .44 Magnum. In the Specials, I've defaulted to Buffalo Bore Anti-Personnel 200-gr wadcutters at 1000 fps; in the Magnum, as I've mentioned before, I've sett;ed on the Garrett Defenders, 310-gr at roughly 1000 fps.